The Crown Estate OKs Northern Ireland’s Three Offshore Renewable Energy Projects

  • Business & Finance

The Crown Estate, advised by Pinsent Masons, has announced the award of development rights for the first three offshore renewable energy sites in Northern Ireland’s coastal waters.

Following a ten-month competitive tender process, companies have now been awarded the rights to develop three sites off the coasts of County Down and Country Antrim that have the combined potential to produce up to 800MW of electricity. The development rights have been awarded as follows:

• First Flight Wind Ltd, a joint venture between Dong Energy of Denmark and RES-B9, has been selected to develop a 600MW offshore wind area located off the south east coast of Country Down.

• Tidal Ventures Ltd has been granted the rights for a 100MW tidal opportunity at Torr Head off the north coast of County Antrim. Tidal Ventures is a joint venture between OpenHydro Group, a designer and manufacturer of tidal turbines, and Bord Gáis Energy, one of Ireland’s leading energy providers.

• DP Marine Energy Ltd with Deme Blue Energy has been awarded the rights to develop a 100MW tidal stream energy project at Fair Head, also off the north cost of County Antrim to the north west of Torr Head. This project is a consortium comprising Cork-based DP Marine Energy Ltd and the Belgian marine engineering company DEME Blue Energy.

All parties have now signed legal agreements with The Crown Estate, which holds the responsibility for leasing the seabed for renewable energy projects in all UK waters. The companies are now able to take their projects forward and carry out detailed surveys and planning work before submitting proposals to the relevant Northern Ireland bodies for consent.

Graham Pierce, a partner and marine infrastructure expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “There is incredible potential for renewable energy projects all along the Northern Ireland coastline and the awarding of the development rights for these three sites is a landmark for electricity generation in the province.

“The benefits of these projects will be felt not only in more sustainable energy production, but also the introduction of a range of new skills and expertise to Northern Ireland as companies both work on the sites and play prominent roles in the schemes’ supply chains.”

Rob Hastings, Director of Energy and Infrastructure at The Crown Estate said: “I am delighted that we have today announced the successful bidders for the Northern Ireland Offshore Wind and Tidal Leasing Rounds.

“We’re very pleased to achieve this important milestone, and will continue to work closely with Northern Ireland Executive and developers to progress projects and attract investment, with the aim of helping meet Northern Ireland’s targets on renewable energy production.”

Northern Ireland Energy Minister Arlene Foster MLA welcomed the news and said “Today’s announcement by The Crown Estate represents a major milestone for Northern Ireland. I am greatly encouraged by the progress made to date to develop our offshore renewable resource and that these key companies want to invest in our waters.

“The development of offshore renewables is an excellent opportunity for Northern Ireland in so many ways – energy security and diversity; climate change mitigation; a contribution to the Executive’s 2020 targets and the business supply chain opportunities for local companies over the next few years as these projects come on stream.”

Press Release, October 10, 2012; Image: OpenHydro

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